Governor honors 4-year-old lifesaver

May 16, 1997


Staff Writer

Sarah Miller was just a typical 4-year-old until March 1 when fate stepped in and made her a hero.

When her mother began having trouble breathing at the family's Boonsboro home, the youngster went to the telephone, called 911 and alerted authorities.

"I told Sarah I couldn't breathe," said Jennifer Miller, Sarah's mom. "I was panicking but she told me she knew what to do."

Sarah dialed correctly and within seconds was talking with veteran dispatcher David C. Pheil at Washington County Emergency Communications Center.

For their efforts, the dispatcher and the little girl were both honored in Annapolis Thursday by Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening as Emergency Medical Services week got under way across the state.


Pheil, who has been a dispatcher since the countywide emergency communications began operations in Washington County in August 1975, was presented with the Maryland EMS Star of Life award.

Sarah got a Maryland EMS Citizen award from the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services Systems for the proper use of 911.

Working as a team, Pheil kept Sarah on the telephone while reassuring her that an ambulance was on the way for her mother.

In the meantime, Jennifer Miller had passed out, leaving Sarah to face the emergency and to care for her 18-month-old brother.

"Dave was trying to keep Sarah calm throughout the episode, especially after I passed out," said Jennifer Miller.

The two were still on the phone when the ambulance arrived and took the woman to the hospital for treatment.

Too young for Children's Village of Washington County - or even school for that matter - Sarah learned about 911 from her mother.

"I taught her how to do it," Jennifer Miller said. But she said she wasn't sure Sarah would remember her instructions in a crisis.

She had nothing to fear, however. Sarah knew just what to do.

The Miller family, which has since moved to Frederick, Md., traveled to Annapolis for the ceremonies Thursday.

In addition to the awards for Pheil and Sarah Miller, the governor gave out seven other awards to people who stood out during the past year in the field of emergency medical services.

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